The case study mentioned by Lisa Kitinoja "Linking Smallholder Horticultural Farmers with Lucrative Export Markets" raises several other issues not yet touched in the discussions, namely:
1) governments and donors need to understand that the promotion of sustainable cooperative businesses is a long-term educational/training process that requires technical assistance over alonger period than the typicalm2-3 year development project allows. I would also add to this point the one raised earlier by Nishadi Somaratne that such assistance should be linked to the assisted cooperative's achievement certain well-defined business performance and self-sufficiency targets.
2) such assistance should primarily focus on trading to enhance member business skills, not just cooperative managers business skills and farmer members should be treated as "agri-business people" rather than just as farmers.
3) the primary aiims of the training should focus on increasing the profitability of the cooperative business, investing in business growth and increasing member benefits
4) another important lesson learned from the study is the usefulness of small informal group approaches in business skill training, especially in larger cooperatives where the gap between members and cooperative leaders is greatest.
5) evidence demonstrates that rural women are better savers and accumulators and often have better micro-business management skills than men. That being the case, the increased participation of women in cooperatives and at middle and higher levels of management should be encouraged.
Read more about the facilitators
Related links and resources:
FAO's website on cooperatives and producers organisations
World Food Day
Good practices in building innovative rural institutions to increase food security
Agricultural cooperatives: paving the way for food security and rural development (Brochure)
My.Coop - Managing your agricultural cooperatives
The Group Promoter's Resource Book
The Group Enterprise Resource Book
The Group Savings Resource Book
The Inter-Group Association Resource Book
New Strategies for Mobilizing Capital in Agricultural Cooperatives
Computerizing Agricultural Cooperatives: Practical Guidelines
Cooperatives: Has their Time Come or Gone?
Agricultural cooperative development - A manual for trainers
Capital Formation in Kenyan Farmer-owned Cooperatives: a case study